Helping Parents Make the Grade

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  • Monday meant back-to-school for many of you, three little words that usually either spread joy or terror for children and their parents.

    Either way, it means you’re really involved in you children’s lives and are in touch with what’s going on at school. So, once you get over all the drama surrounding back-to-school shopping, you can really think about the role you will play this year at your children’s school — and in ensuring they excell. Because even though you just spent a grip on sneakers, back packs and whatever else the school requests, that’s the easy part. If you’re suffering from post traumatic school shopping disorder, check out the blog by a “Mama Gone Wild,” our senior producer Nikki Woods. She feels you.

    But for every parent who is out there in the trenches making sure their child has everything needed to be prepared, there are a few who are unable or unwilling to even try to make sure their kids are successful in school.
    And sometimes parents come up short because their plates are just entirely too full.

    When a mom or dad has to carry the entire load in raising a family — earning the money, making sure the kids stay in school, in church and on the sports teams — something usually (not always, but usually) falls through the cracks.

    So moms and dads, single and married need to learn how to ask for help. There’s no shame in saying to your friends and family members that your load is too heavy.

    Your child’s education needs to be a very high priority on the list of all the things you have to oversee. Grandparents, aunties and uncles are resources for you, but you should also check out organizations that offer tutoring services, etc. to children.

    And if you’re a friend or family member watching a mom or dad struggle to handle their business, the best thing you can do is offer your time and talents when you can.

    When you look at education today, like so many other things, the gap between less-than-standard and outstanding is probably wider than its ever been. In other words, a lot of kids are getting either a really awful or a really good education, and a lot of it depends on what their parents and their support can afford.

    It isn’t supposed to be like way. We all pay taxes to support the schools in the neighborhoods where we live, and even though you should expect that school in the area with the higher school taxes might have a nicer gym, in a perfect world, that’s where the differences would end. But the truth is many public schools not only lack decent gyms; they don’t have gym equipment or even a P.E. program at all. Private and charter schools are taking the best, brightest children — and their parents — and leaving public schools in turmoil, and once again, the poorer schools are hit the hardest and suffer the worst.

    But even at the smallest, poorest pubic school, there’s a pool of parents and children determined to succeed against the odds. These are the parents and children who hang in there and believe that if they can just get through the system, out of high school and into college, they will be better off. A lot of these families look in the direction of HBCUs, but in a lot of cases, these schools are having the same kinds of issues as the poverty-stricken public schools are having. Mainstream colleges and universities are offering very attractive incentives to kids who they at one time had no interest in — poor, black with average SAT scores.

    We’ve got a lot of work to do and a lot of things to save, but it starts with the person closest to you because that’s the person that’s easiest for you to reach. Whether it’s money for school supplies, help with homework, chaperoning a field trip or passing the word about the Tom Joyner Virtual College Fair, everybody can do something to the lighten the load of parents with kids in school. If you missed Roland’s interview with education secretary Arnie Duncan, he had some great tips for parents and the people who love them.

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